Metabolic and Functional Biochemistry

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The objectives of the course are as follows:
-to provide an in-depth and integrated vision of the metabolic pathways and molecular mechanisms of regulation in organs and tissues, both in physiological and pathological conditions;
-to provide an updated picture of the metabolic implications and connections recently emerged in the area of tumour proliferation, inflammation, development (stem cells) and ageing;
-to develop in the student the capacity to understand the biochemical bases, functional implications and experimental approaches of recently published metabolic studies in high-impact scientific journals in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology, biomedicine and biotechnology;
-to develop in the student the ability to re-elaborate the knowledge and to analyze the scientific literature in a critical way in order to identify new therapeutic targets.
The course is consistent with the objectives of the course of study and contributes to the acquisition of knowledge and skills in the following areas: (i) biochemical aspects of the human organism and preclinical experimental models; (ii) structure and functions of biological macromolecules and cellular processes in which they intervene, with particular emphasis on metabolic and functional correlations and pathogenetic implications.
In addition, the course, together with others in the biological area, helps to provide the appropriate background for further studies in more applicative fields.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, students should demonstrate that they know and understand: the different metabolic pathways and their integration at the organ and the whole organism level; the molecular mechanisms of regulation operating in physiological conditions or altered in the main metabolic disorders; the metabolic implications related to tumor proliferation, stem cells and inflammation.
In addition, the student should demonstrate that he/she has acquired the ability to understand and critically analyze recently published studies in the metabolic field.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/2022 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Course syllabus
The following topics will be covered during the course
- Liver: hepatic lobule structure and zonation phenomenon (metabolic aspects and regulatory mechanisms); molecular aspects and regulation of the main metabolic pathways; glucose and fatty acid metabolism; amino acid metabolism and ammonia detoxification systems; mevalonate pathway
- Endocrine pancreas: metabolism of beta-pancreatic cells, correlation between metabolism and insulin secretion
- Intestine: metabolic and functional characteristics of intestinal cells, correlation between microbiota, immune system and metabolism in the intestine.
- Adipose tissues: molecular mechanisms underlying the differentiation and metabolic functions of adipose tissues, molecular and regulatory aspects of lipolysis and lipogenesis, thermogenesis and browning phenomenon.
- Skeletal muscle and bone: metabolic characteristics of muscle fibers; biochemical determinants and molecular mechanisms of muscle fiber remodeling; structure and main components of bone tissue; biochemical aspects of the mineralization process; biochemical-metabolic aspects of osteoblast and osteoclast differentiation and bone remodeling; impact of factors released by muscle and bone tissue in metabolic homeostasis
- Brain: characteristics and general metabolic functions of the main brain cell types; characteristics and regulation of glucose metabolism in astrocytes and neurons; functional aspects of glutamate and glutamine metabolism in astrocytes and neurons; myelin biochemistry
- Biochemical-metabolic aspects of cancer and stem cells: metabolic reprogramming in response to growth factors and oncogenic mutations; effect of the microenvironment on the metabolic profile of cancer and stem cells; correlation between metabolism and epigenetic regulation in cancer cells.
Prerequisites for admission
The notions acquired in the courses of Biochemistry or General Biochemistry and Molecular Biology are indispensable for understanding and learning the topics covered.
Knowledge in anatomy, physiology and genetics will facilitate the understanding of the topics.
Teaching methods
The teaching includes frontal lessons during which students are warmly invited to participate with questions, comments, observations. Students will be stimulated to develop a critical sense and a "problem solving" approach.
Teaching Resources
The PDFs of the slides used during the lessons will be downloadable from the teaching site through the Ariel platform.
A list will also be provided with the references of the articles cited during the lessons, with a brief summary and reasons for the selection.
The following texts can also be consulted:
Fondamenti di Biochimica, Voet, Voet & Pratt, Zanichelli
Principi di Biochimica con messa a fuoco su quella umana, Garret & Grisham, Piccin
Fondamenti di biochimica Umana, Maccarrone, Zanichelli
Biochimica, Matthews, Van Holde, Ahern, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana
Biochimica, Berg, Tymoczko, Streyer, Zanichelli
I principi di biochimica di Lehninger, Nelson & Cox, Zanichelli
Biochimica Medica, Siliprandi & Tettamanti, Piccin
Assessment methods and Criteria
The examination will be conducted orally using the Microsoft Teams platform or, where regulations permit, in attendance.
Specifically, the examination will be aimed at:
- assess the level of knowledge and understanding of the topics covered during the course
- test the ability to discuss the biochemical aspects of complex processes and to highlight correlations and the degree of metabolic integration, for example at the level of organs and tissues;
- verify the ability to understand and critically discuss recent scientific articles proposed during the course and related to the topics covered;
- verify the ability to describe the topics clearly and, where required, with specific terms pertinent to biological and biotechnological disciplines
BIO/10 - BIOCHEMISTRY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Educational website(s)
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and upon request via Microsoft Teams or email
Microsoft Teams